The official blog of the Joint Fire Science Program

The official blog of, the Interagency Joint Fire Science Program.

January 24, 2012

Trapped in the Here, the Now and the Future?

The Classic Firefinder / Courtesy USDA Forest Service
Having fire history information for your area through fire occurrence maps, tree ring studies, and deep sediment drilling is something almost everyone appreciates.  But when it comes to wildland fire research and management history, are we less than enthusiastic about the past?  Do we discount “old” information?  Are we trapped in the here and now, and hyperfocused on the future? Below are some classic resources for your perusal. Expand your perspective with this "old" information while keeping in mind that the science of wildland fire is still young!

In 1954, George Byram from the USFS Southeastern Research Station wrote a paper titled Atmospheric Conditions Related to Blowup Fires.  He explains the wind patterns on fires such as Mann Gulch and Rattlesnake.
Also from the Southeast is a 1973 paper by Wade and Ward, An Analysis of the Air Force Bomb Range Fire. The 1983 paper about horizontal vortices and The Mack Lake Fire in Michigan by Simard,is also a great read. And don't forget the Haines Index which is still in use today.
We’d also like to draw your attention to the Summer 2003 issue of Fire Management Today - Wildland Fire Behavior Case Studies and Analyses: Part 1. You'll find great information cover to cover.

Wildland Firefighter training circa 1939 in the Umatilla National Forest / Courtesy USDA Forest Service

And I would be remiss if I did not mention another Clive Countryman (1974) publication - Can Southern California Wildland Conflagrations be Stopped?  Rule of thumb from my younger days: Southern California chaparral burns every 30 years. Is creation of an age mosaic in chaparral the way to prevent fires?  What do you think?  Is the idea still valid? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below. 

Keep Smilin’,
Tim Swedberg
Joint Fire Science Program